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The majority of patrons pay retail value or more. Statistics provided by Panera indicate that roughly 60 percent leave the suggested amount; 20 percent leave more; and 20 percent less. One person paid $500 for a meal, the largest single payment.

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Only a few take advantage of the system _ "lunch on Uncle Ron" as Shaich calls it. He still fumes over watching three college kids pay $3 for $40 worth of food. Generally, peer pressure prevents that sort of behavior, he said.

The biggest difference is at the checkout. The menu board lists "suggested funding levels," not prices. Payments go into a donation box, though the cashiers provide change and handle credit card payments.

"It's like parking in a handicapped spot," Shaich said.

Nicholas James, 34, visiting from California, seemed a bit puzzled as a cashier walked him through the process, before stuffing $15 in the donation box to cover lunch for his Nike Hoodie Women Black

Panera, based in suburban Nike Sportswear Rally Hoodie St. Louis, has long been involved in charitable giving, donating millions of dollars and giving away leftover food to the needy. But Shaich sought more direct involvement.

"I think it's great," James said. "I would much prefer to give this place my money."

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Not everyone is so generous, but that's OK with Brooke Porter, who manages the restaurant. She knows that times are still hard for many. She has seen families down on their luck come in to celebrate birthdays with a meal they normally couldn't afford. A teacher laid off after 25 years stops by on his way to job fairs. He can't afford to pay much but makes up for it by volunteering at the store.

Shaich admitted he didn't know how the pay what you want experiment would pan out. He said the success should send a message to other businesses to put faith in humanity.

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Terri Barr greets everyone at the door and spells it out.

"We were doing this for ourselves to see if we could make a difference with our own hands, not just write a check, but really make a contribution to the community in a real, substantive way," Shaich told The Associated Press.

The differences are subtle. Signs explain the pay what you can concept, encouraging charity. One thing Shaich learned was those signs tend to go unnoticed, so cheery employee Nike Hoodie Gray

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"From the day it opened, the community has just gotten stronger and stronger in their support of this," Shaich said. "They got that this was a caf of shared responsibility."

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What developed was the largest example yet of a concept called community kitchens, where businesses operate partly as charities. Panera's success in Clayton has led it to open two similar cafes one in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Mich., and one in Portland, Ore. It plans to add a new one every three months or so.

The Clayton restaurant could pass for any of Panera's nearly 1,500 cafes. Soft jazz plays as people chat quietly. Men in suits sit at a table next to women in tank tops. Fresh breads and pastries entice from behind a glass counter. The smell of coffee fills the air.

"We took some kids that typically wouldn't be employable, didn't know how to work in society," Shaich said. "We gave them a combination of job training and life skills." The first three graduates of the program are starting jobs at other Panera restaurants.

like Thornton.

A year later pay what you want Panera a success

Overall, the caf performs at about 80 percent of retail and brings in revenue of about $100,000 a month. That's enough to generate $3,000 to $4,000 a month above costs, money being used for a job training program for at risk youths.

"If a man in a suit and tie leaves a dollar for a $10 meal, that's fine," Porter said. "We don't know his story."

friend and himself. The payment was right at the suggested cost.

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CLAYTON, Mo. Rashonda Thornton looked up at the menu on the wall, ordered a Caesar salad and dropped a $10 bill in a box. Pretty generous, considering the meal at Panera Bread Co.'s cafe in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton sells for less than $7.

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It was a year ago that Panera converted the Clayton restaurant into a nonprofit pay what you want restaurant with the idea of helping to feed the needy and raising money for charitable work. Panera founder and Chairman Ronald Shaich said the cafe, operated through Panera's charitable foundation, has been a big success, largely because of people Nike Sb Long Sleeve

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